The American South in 20th Century Literature and Film
The American South in the twentieth century is a region riven with conflict. Marked by white supremacist violence, virulently oppressive political institutions, brutal labor exploitation, and deep-seated conservatism, it is also a site of the black freedom struggle, populist politics, leftwing labor organizing, and major innovations in cultural production. Even the American South’s geographical boundaries are conflicted, containing sub-regions as various as Appalachia, the Upland South, the Deep South, the Southwest, and the circum-Caribbean. In this course, we will seek to determine the myriad of ways in which place shapes the form and content of cultural texts. Utilizing a diverse archive of prose and film, we will explore the heterogeneity of the American South, attending throughout to how race, class, gender, and sexuality come to be represented as sites of contestation. We will read works from authors such as Zora Neale Hurston, James Agee, Richard Wright, Carson McCullers, and Cormac McCarthy and view films such as A Street Car Named Desire, Night of the Hunter, The Beguiled, and Hale County, This Morning, This Evening. Assignments will consist of an oral presentation, a short paper, and a final research project.